The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/12/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 551 times Debate No: 69946
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Argument set-up:
Round One-Acceptance
Round Two-State Arguments
Round Three- Rebuttal
Round Four-Conclusions


Greetings Jhous, may we begin?
Debate Round No. 1


Tadeusz, it's a pleasure.

Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence said, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." It is from this framework I wish to build my argument.

Democracy is unique because of it's capability to change to match the needs of the people. The error in this situation, however, is that a true democracy is constituted of a largely complacent citizenry. People will not tolerate oppression, if they know it exists, but if those few who know of its existence are not permitted to act on what they know and believe, change for better or worse will not occur. If change does not occur, society stagnates. A stagnant society is always the first to decay. For that reason, people should be able to civilly disobey their governments as a potential catalyst for change. Things such as the Declaration of Independence, Southern Secession, and Rosa Parks where all acts of civil disobedience which I believe are morally justified.

As far as the morality goes, I believe in a hierarchy of morals. We can all agree that it is better to lie than to murder, and though neither are right, if you were left with a choice between two evils the moral choice would be that which is the least evil.

Given that assumption, I derive that a government which is unjustly treating it's citizens (be it through unrepresented taxation, slavery, or lack of civil rights) is of greater evil than following the laws it prescribes. Though it is moral to follow the law of the land, if that law or the government which created that law is unjust or violating higher morals, it becomes totally moral to disobey them. Indeed, it is more moral to disobey an immoral government than it is to obey said government. Thank you, and I solicit a affirmative ballot.


It is indeed a pleasure,

Having read your argument I was astonished by your use of such an excellent quotation. And indeed, such is the case. With totalitarian rulers. However, the very essence of democracy means that you yourself can vote for a government. A government picked by a majority, which, in the very definition of democracy, can be rid of by the ballot. Going against the will of democracy is, by definition, going against the will of the majority. Protest is not necessary, the power of the people lies in the vote. Is it not wrong to oppose a government which your people themselves have chosen? Is it not necessary that people comply with the will of the majority, something proven to be the safest form of government and most secure, due to the removal of the chance of tyranny. Is it not fatuous if the people oppose what they themselves have chosen? Especially considering as the government can be replaced with a vote.

So, assuming that the people in general agree with the government I would also like to question why a small group of people, with whom the average person disagrees why should the people rise up against the government. For me indubitably, the argument you have stated, is quite a twisted one. The very nature of a democracy is that it provokes and shall provoke change depending on the will of the people. It is democracy that has brought us all the social reform, as politicians have had to make promises specific to certain groups. The arguments you have used, firstly, the declaration of independence, that was not a democracy for the Americans. They were under the foot of the British government and they freed themselves.

Also who are we to claim that such a government is acting tyrannically, who are we to question the morality of that government? We are merely a majority. Out of social protest many evils have risen. A lot of unnecessary change has happened. The prime example being the nationalist socialist rise to power. Another example could be Mr Vladimir Putin, a Russian dictator who has risen out of a turbulent Russian democracy. These examples have led to the deaths of many people. The reason for this is that the mob mentality, whereby a protest may just go too far. And it shall often do so, causing a lot of harm. Democracy in itself is a catalyst for change, social movements can reverse it and can cause to a lot of death and pain.

People are easy to manipulate, a truth that has been exploited many times. Not as individuals but as a mob. Hence why there are so many quotes encouraging us to be ourselves, to be independent. This allows us to separate ourselves from the words of those who try urge us on, to form a mob and to march against something can be very dangerous and can easily escalate. We should do everything to fight this sort of protest. After all: " Mob law is the most forcible expression of an abnormal public opinion; it shows that society is rotten to the core", as Timothy Thomas Fortune once said.

Before I end, I would like to emphasise that it is democracy that has brought change and evolution to the system. People are naturally moral creatures and it is the people that rule in a democracy. Social protest can now show itself through politics and through voting, hence I'd say that the days of violent civil disobedience have passed. Would you not agree that people have evolved to more peaceful means of serving such matters, through democracy itself? For me the dangers of violent protests are too much, in any democracy there should be no such thing, everything should be sorted purely through democracy.

I thank you for allowing me to speak and for this great opportunity of debating with you. and I am happy to debate such an important topic.
Debate Round No. 2


Firstly, I would address my opponents point that a democracy cannot, by definition, be tyrannical. I feel that James Madison, the father of the Constitution, would be an expert on what the habits and patterns of democracy are. After all, the Constitution was document which started and maintained the greatest democracy the world has ever seen! He said, concerning tyranny, "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." (The Federalist Papers, 47)

Given that statement is true, we may come to the conclusion that a democracy may become a tyranny of many over a few. In a true democracy, minority rights will be stomped upon by an abusive majority. This is simply the natural thing for those in power to do when left unchecked. Such as in a democracy where civil disobedience is prohibited.

This leads to a second point. You state that a majority is always right when it comes to a democracy, and that disobeying the will of the majority is wrong. Do you then believe that a majority of people can condemn a minority to unjust laws? Say the vast number of heterosexuals determining that those who are homosexual should be incarcerated. Would this determination by the almighty majority be a just one? And were it truly unjust, would it be wrong to attempt to abolish that injustice, even if it is against the will of the majority?

I would also point out that if minorities do not stand up against the majorities, they will undeniably be denied some of their rights. I believe in the right to rule being vested in the will of the majority, so long as the rights of the minorities are also protected. In result of this belief I also believe, as Martin Luther King said, "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." It is the most effective way to represent the oppressed minorities in a democracy. Indeed, if every person absolutely obeyed the will of the majority, there would always be oppressed factions.

I hope that my meager words have been constructed in a fashion in which they have made their point. I hope the opponent and judges will honestly view my opinion. Thank you as well for providing such wonderful competition in this controversial topic.


Tadeusz forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Seeing that no rebuttal was made, I hold my statements made in round three to be solid, and will use them as my conclusion. I claim the votes of the judges, and do honestly hope that my opponent will at least post their conclusion. Thank you.


Tadeusz forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Bahamute619 1 year ago
what do you mean just in a democracy? Are you arguing just because you are in a democracy it is morally justified? are you stating that in any other situation (communism, dictatorship, totalitarian) it is not?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture